Estimating the costs of war is a dirty business. Sure governments can tell you how much they spent on tanks, but what about rebuilding costs? What about the lives lost? What about the costs to healthcare systems that struggle to help veterans with PTSD many years down the line? There are so many hidden costs to war that there is absolutely no way to put a price tag on any given conflict. Which is why we won’t (at least not entirely). Rather, this list consists of 25 wars that are quasi ranked according to what historians and political scientists would probably say (although they would undoubtedly argue). These are the 25 most expensive wars in history.
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War in Afghanistan
This doesn’t only include the war on terror, this goes all the way back to 1978 when the fighting in Afghanistan started during the Saur Revolution. Since then the parties involved have changed but there has been no peace and the level of destruction has been quite extensive for everyone involved.
Thirty Years War
Actually a series of wars during the 1600s, this was one of the most destructive periods in the history of Europe prior to the 19th century. In fact, the war bankrupted almost all the belligerents and soldiers were eventually expected to fund themselves by looting.
Yellow Turban Rebellion
This Chinese peasant revolt against the Han Dynasty took over two decades to suppress and got its name from the color of the cloths that rebels wore on their heads.
Second Congo War
Known as the African World War, this was the largest, deadliest, and most destructive conflict ever fought on African soil.
Chinese Civil War
Ending in the creation of two Chinas (mainland China and Taiwan both claim to be the legitimate China), this civil war hasn’t technically ended yet as no peace treaty has been signed. In purely financial terms the war cost over $600 billion (in 2014 dollars).